It’s rare for a musician to spend a whole year playing just one piece, but that’s exactly what Víkingur Ólafsson decided to do once he’d finally got around to recording Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Having heard the album and seen him play the work live in London, I can honestly report that Australian audiences are in for something special.

Víkingur Ólafsson

Víkingur Ólafsson. Photo © Markus Jans.

Ólafsson is known for his eclectic tastes and extensive repertoire, so can this literally be all he is playing for an entire year? “Basically, it’s the only piece I know by now!” he laughs. “It’s my year with myself, with Bach and with the suitcase. And a year just exploring the world. It’s my chance to finally go to Australia, to go to South America and all the places I’ve been dreaming of going but have never been able to make it work.”

Originally, the plan was to perform 88 concerts, equivalent to the number of keys on the modern piano, but repeats and sold-out venues mean he’s now doing 94. “The idea was to set...